Four hard truths about menopause…

Menopause is a natural transition for women, but we all respond to it differently. However, there are some things we can all consider.

Here are my four hard truths about menopause:

1 The menopause happens to every woman.

You can waste a lot of time in the ‘am I menopausal?’ zone instead of focusing your energy on ‘how can I take care of myself at this time’. It’s a time to double down on self-care and your mind-body connection, but that only comes with accepting you are menopausal.

If you don’t accept this, you start to lose that mind-body connection. Your head wants to push through, keeping doing what you have always done, when your body is clearly giving very different signals.

The obvious signals your body can give you are; an increase in menopause symptoms, the need to rest more, becoming a moody eater or moody exerciser. Not having any patience for other people or yourself. Having meltdowns over things you know deep down are unimportant.

Accepting that you are menopausal is not the same as accepting you are old or whatever the chatter that is in your head. It is about getting out of the passenger seat and taking the wheel in a car that feels like it is out control much of the time. You have much more influence on your menopause than you think with how you chose to life your life. You can affect the hormones in your body by the way that you rest, exercise, eat and prioritise your self-care.

2 To reduce your menopause symptoms, you will need to make changes.

Making changes can be difficult, but it can also be easy to when you know there will be a reward. When I was at the movies last weekend, 99% of the audience sat through over eight minutes of credits at the end because they knew they would be rewarded with a teaser of the next instalment.

What is your version of sitting through credits? Mine is Hatha Yoga, I have participated in yoga classes for over a decade but it is only since researching activities that help reduce menopause symptoms that I started getting serious about yoga and trained as a yoga teacher. I wouldn’t call myself a yogi but there are a number of aspects that can really shift symptoms.

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Pilates is still my first love and I would most definitely prefer to be out running at 7am on a Monday morning rather than sitting on my mat but I am very focused on keeping my symptoms to a minimum. It’s not forever, it’s just a season.

3 Enjoy whatever occupies you.

This is a toughie and it can be a mighty stretch to say enjoy the menopause. But here’s the thing, it lasts for years, a decade for some. That’s an awfully long time to be miserable and waiting for things to get better all by themselves.

How you exercise may change as you go through the menopause. I had a spell in a Pilates beginner’s class where I was the youngest by a decade or two. I decided I was going to enjoy it regardless, and surprise surprise I did. Performing beginners’ exercises when you have been teaching for a decade gives quite a different perspective and I did get a good workout from the class. I could have easily got very grumpy with myself but I was consistently attending that class for over a year, whereas I struggled with attending my ‘usual’ one as I just didn’t always have the energy for it.

4 You will have a different body at the end of the menopause.

Personally, I think it’s an astounding process the body goes through during the menopause. My shape is different and it is really easy to blame my hormones for it, but my capacity for change is also to blame. I spent a long time thinking I was too young for the menopause and doing things because I had always done them a certain way.

There is a point you reach where you sit down with pure frustration that you aren’t getting the results you expect and realise that it’s time to take a different approach. That approach will be specific to you and your menopause which again is frustrating as there isn’t a manual. However, it is up to you to start rebuilding your mind-body connection. Losing the frustrations of what you belief your body isn’t doing and tapping into just how incredible your body is, processing the changes of the menopause.

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I think the menopause is a halfway point and all of the changes, not just the physical ones, will help shape our next 50 years. What are you creating for yourself?

Samantha Valand

About Samantha Valand

I help women to balance their hormones with exercise and self-care so they feel like themselves again. I’ve written a book The Menopause Diaries: A Practical Guide to Healthy Eating and Exercising in Your Menopausal Years and I enjoy teaching Pilates and Hatha Yoga in Edinburgh.